When Namibia committed to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) in Ethiopia last year, enhanced transparency and accountability were some of the driving factors, but more than a year later the mechanism is yet to be implemented.
The APRM is a voluntary self-assessment tool adopted by the African Union (AU) to improve governance in member states and on the continent as a whole. In his speech at the time, an enthusiastic President Hage Geingob remarked that “mechanisms such the APRM provide us with an opportunity to introspectively interrogate our processes, systems and institutions to identify shortcomings, while at the same time identifying our strengths”.
Press secretary Dr. Alfredo Hengari this week said the “APRM would allow government to subject itself to a peer review enabling it to improve governance across political and economic sectors”. Hengari said the APRM and the upcoming country review implies that it will be a complex process, therefore consultations are underway to determine the host ministry.
This week civil society representatives engaged government on the implementation of the APRM, and according to Steven Gruzd from the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), the APRM is an opportunity for good governance in Namibia as it is a voluntary holding of the mirror for the government which has a focus not often reflected by other governance mechanisms.
Institute of Public Policy and Research Graham Hopwood is optimistic that government will indeed champion the facilitation of the peer review mechanism.
“At the moment it is unclear as to where the focal point of implementation will be located. It could be the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation or the National Planning Commission.
There are also budgetary concerns considering the current economic situation faced by the country. From our side as a civil society, we intend to meet the government halfway and have a few APRM related events lined up to that effect from April,” said Hopwood.
Also commenting on the APRM was opposition leader of the Popular Democratic Movement McHenry Venaani who said acceding to the peer review mechanism was a wise choice on government’s part “as it will hopefully highlight areas of governance needing improvement in the country.
“The peer review mechanism gives an opportunity for countries to really gauge their performance on issues of socio-economic development. I must therefore emphasise the need for other African countries to review us as much as we need to measure ourselves comparatively,” he said.
The APRM was adopted by the AU in 2003 as a voluntary peer review mechanism for African governments to assess good governance in their contexts.
To date 37 African governments have made a commitment to undergo the review. Lessons from countries that have already implemented the APRM highlight the National Planning Commission or the Presidency’s as its focal point regarding implementation. The task of the focal point is to establish an independent representative and a respected multi-stakeholder body- including civil society, businesses, unions, faith groups, academia, government and other relevant organisations.